away without embarrassing them or having their pride attacked. he did his best that day to let the cowboys settle down and ride on out of town. and finally felt forced to act. when he did, he called on the people he trusted most. his two brothers. then, of course, there was doc along who was never going to miss an occasion like this. it was a terrible tragedy that this happened. and i think if things had happened differently in one or two instances, if virgil hasn't been approached by a couple of town leaders offering vigilante, if wyatt hasn't had that, if the cowboys walking through meaning to leave town, but not wanting to leave too fast. because they didn't want all of the onlookers to see they are backed them down and made them
leave. any number of things might have prevented this. even if that had been the case, something similar would have happened sometime soon. >> watch this. former director of the emergency management recalls the leadership of the agency during hurricane katrina. it's about an hour and 15 minutes. >> hi, i guess we're ready to begin. good evening. welcome to the national press club, i'm jan king, i'm on the book and author committee. we're so honored tonight to have as our guest michael brown. he'll be speaking to you all about his book "deadly indifference: the perfect political storm." copies of the book are available for purchase over there where nicole is sitting. and each sale benefits the eric
friedheim national journalism library. no outside books will be allowed please. mr. brown will be signing your copy after he gives his little talk here. he'll be happy to do that for you. before i begin, please turn your cell phones off. which means i have to turn mine off too. okay. there's two events coming up at the national press club that i want to announce. june 23rd, thursday night, we're going to have neil gayman. he has his books "american god" 10th anniversary edition. this will be a ballroom event. august 1st, senator bob graham. he will be discussing his keys to the kingdom in the conference rooms. i'm sure you all know that our guest, michael brown, served as the first undersecretary of homeland security for president
george w. bush from 2003 to 2005. he was also director, deputy director, and general council of fema from 2001 to 2005. at the white house, he served on the consequence management committee, comprise of cabinet deputies, following the attacks of 9/11. and headed the white house transition team for emergency preparedness and response, department of homeland security. he also served on the national security could be -- security council deputy committee. also he's an oklahoma native. he attended the university central of oklahoma, the oklahoma university school of law, and holds a juris doctorate in law, he has held -- in his
book, "deadly indifference" co-authored by michael schwartz, he described the coeversion of society facing natural or manmade disasters. in his books, you will read many exerts from a journal that mr. brown maintained when he was working for president george w. bush. eventually his journal reached several hundred pages. he thought that one day his wife or children would read it and they would come to understand why he agreed to take a job that took him so frequently away from home. whatever the case, he intended to keep the entries private. four years after leaving the bush white house, he used them in writing of this book "deadly indifference." mr. brown saying that hurricane katrina was a disaster on many
levels. every participate has it's own version of the almost heroic personal actions taken at a desperate race to beat the storm, protect the people, and then also blame fema. he feels that most people do not know what should have happened and that there were many serve self-ing spin books written in the aftermath. but mr. brown believes that people don't know the planning that was involved or the options available and rejected by high officials who's frequent indecision and occasional bad choices changed a serious situation into a needlessly deadly one. secondly, he talked in the book about the lack of available documentation during katrina. i'm going to let michael brown explain all of that to you. he's the author of the book, he knows more than i do. please give me a warm press club welcome for michael brown.
[applause] >> hello, everybody. thanks for coming out. i appreciate it. i was just thinking, jan, you were talking, one the things that struck me that i hadn't thought about for a while in terms of this book. between your introduction and the -- some of the people who are in this room. there's another story that hasn't been told that probably needs to be told about katrina. and that is all of the people. i heard this the other say and i forget the question. another reporter asked me the question and on the "today" show yesterday when the question came up again. about race. how did race and social economics affect what took place in cay -- cay train -- katrina. i'm astounded that this issue
still comes up when you think about the men and women that work for the fema and the entire federal government. i don't know what the number is dhs is. when i left it was 180,000 people. i'm sure now it's 200,000 people. spa. lation is no different than the general population. i'm sure within the general population, there maybe a bigot who's thinking i don't want to help the people, they are poor and stupid, i can imagine that someone like that might be saying. but what we forget is that those civil servants go down to do a job and they do it without respect to the politics, to the racial background, to the social economic background, or anything else of the people involved in that crisis. and that's something that when i -- as i think about some of you that i see here today, and i
think about matt lauer asking that question yesterday, shame on all of us. shame on all of us for allowing that to continue to be an issue when this government or our society responds to a disaster. i don't want to place any sort of demin mouse attitude and blow it off and say let's be realistic. one the respects that we had in hurricane katrina is exposed. it is a society where it's not like all of you smart people in this room. you got here by metro. you drove your car. i flew in today. i'll fly out tomorrow. i've got enough cash -- i'm not going to tell you where it is. i have enough cash if there's an attack tonight or tomorrow, i know i'll be able to go to hertz and negotiate aal to get a car
and be able to somewhere have enough cash to be able to buy cash to get back to denver. when you are of a group that your life revolves around a four-block area, and you are totally dependent upon public transportation, totally dependent upon that little grocery that's at the end of the block, the school two blocks over this way, and the church and the synagogue is four blocks the other way. even if -- even if the mayor had ordered the evacuation of hurricane hurricane -- new orleans, within the recommended 72 hours prior to it making landfall, asking those folks to somewhere get outside of that comfort zone and go to an area where somebody was going to pick them up on a bus and take them to huey long or put them on an amtrak train to houston or atlanta would be like
asking any of us to leave this room and go to mars. but recognizing that fact of those folks who were in that situation is not racist. and recognizing that we have a segment of this population that that is how their lives are lived is not racist. that's simply a recognition of the complex population that we have in this country. and that sometimes, sometimes government leaders fail to recognize that asking somebody to do something is asking them something that's out of the extraordinary for them. so i don't know, it was seeing you guys and all of the work in katrina that made me think about that. coupled with the interview with matt lauer. there was a time in 1995 that i had just given a speech outside of san diego, california.
it was april 18th. the next morning i got up and went to the hotel restaurant to have breakfast. i noticed on the monitored, there was some story about explosion. i didn't pay attention to it. walked back and realized it was in oklahoma city. then i realized it was in the murray building. i went back to my room and tried to call a good friend of mine who's is retired federal district judge. couldn't reach him. he was in federal courthouse across the ally. tried to call my good friend and lawyer throughout hurricane katrina, andy. his billing was a block away. couldn't reach him. couldn't reach my sister-in-law. it was my first exposure to how in the midst of a crisis our inability to communicate with each other, -- look, i'm a kid that grew up in the oklahoma panhandle. one of my first childhood memory of that of my father and grandfather opening the cellar
door and all of us watching a tornado blow by. we survived. the billing was my first experience in terms of a disaster where i couldn't reach my friend and i couldn't reach my relatives. i learned beyond a week or so after that disaster by the scum bag named timothy mcveigh that somebody who had as much influence on my life and parents was on sunday school teacher. rita lost her life in that bombing. then i think forward to september 11, 2001, all of you know where you were. we were in big sky, montana, preparing a presentation to the national emergency manager. i was the general council at the time, despite from "time" magazine or other things, i came in and worked my way up the ladder at fema. and we got to c130 and flew back
here. won't andrews. the next day went over. either that day or the next day win went to the pentagon. it was shortly after having walked in with the search and rescue teams. they have the dogs, if you are a dog lover, meet them. they are wonderful. aren't they? we walked in through the hole in the pentagon and came back out. i forget who it was. somebody was there to greet me to let me know. they wanted to make sure i didn't know about it. a good friend of ours had been on there. we had been with her a week o so before the attacks. all of this is real to me. most of us will go through life
and we don't have the personal experience of losing relatives and friends. most of us won't go through life, unless having served, being exposed to the kind of death and destruction that can occur either by mother nature or by mankind. and one the things that i have learned through my experiences of the murrow building is that there's the deadly indifference, the difference that says we are superior to mother nature and we are superior to terrorism, and we are superior to everything. we don't have to worry about that. as we all sit here in a very comfortable room, relatively speaking, it's hot and humid. not like denver. we're all sitting here with the comfort. you are going to go home to your office, or home, turn on the
television, pop some popcorn, fire up the computer, do on and do your writing. we take all of that for granted. i want you to go through the middle experience and draw where you are right now. draw a straight line where you are going from here to home. wherewherever home is. now imagine from this point to that point, imagine everything two miles wide. one mile to the left, one mile to the right as you are going down that road. everything gone. i don't mean you see rumble. this is what collin -- colin powell looked at. we had the tiger nose and flying through all of the destruction.
i remember at one point looking down and seeing the one elderly woman, desperately just walking along, i'm sure she was in shock. i had no idea what she was looking for. home, loved ones, something. her world was complete, completely destroyed and turned upside down. we may not think we are going to face anything like that. we're in washington, d.c., nation's capitol. nothing bad can happen. i have friends in denver, i don't have to be prepared, nothing bad is going to happen here. we had people in the florida in the '04 hurricane that despite the effort of florida power and light bringing in crews from all over the country do turn the power back on, people in florida were still without power for six weeks. that's not bad today.
think about august, september in d.c., think about your apartment, your home, your condo office were whenever it is, no power. i don't want to be around you are. you are going to be irritable. somebody might start shooting up. there's a thin line between the society that we have today and mother nature or man either purposefully or accidently creating a crisis where everything that we take for granted is gone. most of us again are deadly indifferent to it. we don't like to think about it. my time in d.c. has made me a pervert in that respect. now if i travel i think about how do i get back home if
somebody happens. we were in the whole foods and i'm looking at the wonderful vegetables and fruits. they are sitting there and looking at this particular red pepper is not perfect. they are digging through to find the perfect red pepper. you know what i'm thinking? what do they do when the proverbial you know what hits the fan and they are all just looking for a red pepper. i don't care how lousy it is. i just want a red pepper. we are fighting for the last strawberry, the last red pepper. as i look out, i see the balloons over your head. he's nuts. just in time. they can't get to whole foods, they can't get there because the bridges are out. the roads are gone. they don't get there. it's okay for a day o two. we have in the refrigerator.
we'll survive. give it a week or give it like six weeks or longer, depending on the incident. how many of you in this room are ready for that? now i see the cartoon bubbles again. now you are thinking i don't have to do that. it'll never happen. it won't be that long. i can get along for three or four days. no big deal. ask the folks in florida, ask the folks in new orleans. ask the folks in gulfport, biloxi, people in california where the fires completely wiped out their homes. ask the people at ground zero. how long are you ready? i don't want y'all to become sicko like me and think about it all the time. my challenge to is this: think about the risk wherever you live and work. how prepared are you to deal with that risk? it doesn't have to be -- i know
in washington the first thought is the biggest risk is terrorists. how many were here on 9/11? i wasn't. i heard the stories from people trying to get from their area just to get across the bridges. trying to get to mcclane. you didn't have to be at 9/11. it could have been a dirty bomb, some guy at 495 that has driven too long and taking out a substation. and the black out in '03 or '04 where it was a squirrel that took it out. all it has to be. everything thinks that, though fema, which owns no planes, trains, or automobiles, that the dhs will be there in a new york minute. there are 300 plus million people in this country. and there are a fine night
number of firefighters and team members and d-mats and fine night number of cops, health care workers. there's a finite number of electrical workers to repair power lines. they can't be everywhere at one time. even if they get to the neighborhood first, you might be the guy at the end of the block. it might be five days before he gets to the end of your block. my challenge in the book is two hold. one is to used hurricane katrina as an example of everything that can go wrong. we had one of instances that went wrong. they went relatively well. everything that could go wrong, went wrong. mistakes in the government, mistakes in the population,
mistakes in the media. they all came together. the lesson for "deadly indifference" is to read and understand the rules and regulations created part of the deadly indifference. lessons to be learned from the media, lessons for us to learn apt how to deal with the media. but the second point which is more important. for us as individuals, katrina is not an aberration or one time incident. we are done planning or started to do the planning for ten catastrophic events that might occur that we should be ready for. of course, we never got to practice or plan for the other nine. we didn't get even really finish the first one. so the challenge for all of you to read this and get beyond all of the myths, all of the anger, all of the misunderstandings
about hurricane katrina. and too understand what it is to live in our society and rules and responsibilities as citizens in this country. thank you all for comes out. i'm going to shut up. i'd rather answers questions from you. thank you for being here. questions? [applause] [applause] >> i have an anecdote. >> okay. >> when you mentioned that, i had to laugh. i did a little -- i'm a humor author. i did a roast and he didn't like it. he went on national television the next day and called me a blond nut job. >> that's funny. go google my name. see what you come up with. come on. look, i've been grilled by the
united states congress, the united states senate. i think there's some people in this room smarter than that. fire away. >> i want like to know, my son is a latter day saint and community. what was the role with church groups comes in to help. how do they set it up? who goes? >> those people that worked with me know how i feel about the ngos, nongovernment. i think they are the most effective and the most rapid responders that you can have. you know why? they are not burdened by rules and regulations. they are able to go where they want to be, as long as they can get within a secure area or perimeter, they can get wherever. they are the most effective of feeding and taking care of people. they should be an example for us. my theory had been this. we have all of the rules and regulations. congress and others will tell you we have the rules and
regulations to have accountability. i think it's just the opposite. we have all of the rules and regulations to avoid accountability. we have the rules and regulations so the easy answer, i can't do that because it's against the rules. i'd like to do that for you because it's against the rules. that's no accountability. as opposed to, i'm not sure congress would ever do this. to give the fema director or people working in the midst of a crisis the kind of flexibility that they need. this is naive in my part, to give them the kind of flexibility they need in a crisis they can do what needs to be done to take care of victims and make it work. why do i think it won't work? i wish they would do it. because congress is best at one thing, second guessing. i can guarantee if they did give that kind of discretion and flexibility, they would be second guess. i can see the hearing now. in fact, i got really -- like
this one time by i forget which committee it was. we had four hurricanes hit florida. we had hurricane gene, i think it was coming. we didn't know whether hurricane gene was going to hit miami dade or west palm beach. i made the decision, looks to me like the best thing to do, declare a disaster area. include both that way we have everything covered. fema went into action. it provided assistance to people in miami dade county. oh my god, all hell broke lose. brown was doing that because he was trying to buy vote for george w. bush. seriously? seriously? you think number one that i could ever get some of those people in those presearchs for those areas to ever vote for george w. bush. no way. i don't care how much money you throw out. that's not what we were doing.
we were trying to be proactive and make certain that wherever -- in the cone of probability, that we were going to be able to do what we needed to do. we immediately got second guessed on it. so even though i think we ought to have that flexibility, it's a double-edged sword. i'm not sure any future undersecretary or secretary will be able to deal with that kind of flexibility. because congress cannot help themselveses in that regard. yes, sir? >> have things changed? you talk about policy. do you believe things have changed and that we are ready for like joplin, missouri, the tornado went through there and other natural disasters still occurring. are we any better prepared now than when we were for katrina in your opinion? >> i don't think so. the reason i don't think is twofold. there was a stereotypical reaction to katrina in the aftermath. we'll never let that happened
again. what you do, you throw everything, including the kitchen sink at a disaster. instead of being specific and targeted and being good stewards of taxpayers money. now throw everything at it. we don't want to get caught with our pants down again. that's the normal reaction. we are also facing a budget crisis in this country where every 40 cents of every dollar that we spend is borrowed. there are -- and i'll have to find -- i'll find the citation, but there was a 2008 article in one the homeland security articles about the equipment that we've given the firefighters across the country. my understanding from reading the journal in '08, now three yearing old. the equipment was deteriorating to the point it was going to be unusable. i see some heads shaking yes. no, we are not ready. we -- after every disaster, it's the typical bell curve. the disaster occurs, everybody
spins up, the politicians going into action, everybody does their stuff, the media goes away, we are back down to complacency again. i mean we're silly if we don't think that al qaeda or other radical islamist don't want to attack the country. it's a roomful of all republicans. it's -- you are supposed to laugh at that. you two did. sure. thanks a lot. we have men and we have women. conservatives, democrats, republicans, we have a mixture of people in the room. that's not what -- that's what they want to attack. they don't like our way of life. we have become complaisant. mother nature doesn't want us to do what we ought to do. we saw off of the coast, there's a likelihood of another tsunami. we are on the end of another 3,000-year period where those
occur. the end of 3,000-year period, does that mean five hours, 50 years, 500 years. we're somewhere. there will be a tsunami somewhere off of the washington/oregon coast. imagine that. take that line that you had in your line from here to your home or office. imagine it going down from seattle to portland. do you think we are ready for that? no. but more importantly, i don't think citizens are ready for it. if all of you were to leave today, my hope would be if something bad happened in your neighborhood, business, or whatever, you wouldn't be shell shocked. that you wouldn't stand around with a dumb look on your face. you at least had been cognizant of the fact that something could have happened. if you were to do that, you are better off than 98% of the people in the country. most of the people in this country will wait for,
unfortunately, for someone to come and rescue them. for someone to come and take care of them. it is a huge mistake. it will not, cannot occur. sorry, joe, i don't think we're better off. >> what do you think of the performance where the tornadoes and floods? >> i love craig. for those of you in the room though, craig is the current director of fema. i'm known craig since he worked in florida. craig is doing something that i think is gutsy on his part, and i hope he continues to push. that is the attitude that -- he's using the 72 hour mantra and basically saying you need to be ready to be on your own for 72 hours. that has two effects. starts to lower expectations a little bit. we've gotten -- we had gotten to the point in this country where people thought that -- literally, i think people think -- maybe i should ask. how many planes do you think
fema owns? how many fire trucks? how many ambulances? i think we own -- we own one balance, i think. we might have a fire truck out there. otherwise, we don't. the only thing that fema has and the power when the declaration is declared. the ability to coordinate the federal government in response. beyond that, fema doesn't do squat. fema does not come and rescue you. if people think that, get it out of your head. when they dial 9-1-1, it goes to a local fire station or police station. if it's a really big crisis, i guarantee you the local fire station and that local police department is going to be overwhelmed within about 12 hours. mutual aid and people will start back filling everything else. the point -- i want you to remember this. 300 plus people. who's going to come save you?
unless you have your own personal firefighters. you are on your own. you are going a wonderful, magnificent job. making people realize you have a personal responsibility. it's not just to the family and neighbors. it's also too the firefighters that will show up and try to rescue you. if you are not ready and you haven't done what you need to do to take care of yourselves and that firefighter gets hurt or killed trying to do his job to take care of you, shame on you. you should have been more ready. yes, ma'am? >> how many employees of fema? do they have offices all over the country or just here? >> what's the current number? 4? 4,000. 4. [laughter] it was like 3500 or so. paul tells me it's now about
4,000. 4,000 full time. it's a cadray of disaster assistance that come in and do stuff. remember those people are not firefighters. they are not rescue workers and not people that come in with level a suit on and all of this equipment to come in and rescue you from a burning building or a flooded house. those are people to administer programs to get checks out to make sure that people coordinate among the states and communities. they are doing all of those sorts of things. they are implementing programs, planning, exercises and and other programs like that. >> how many offices? >> in nine or ten regions and spread out all over the country. >> was it for fema? >> it was at one time -- what? when i was there, the operating budget was -- let me give you --
i know this has changed. the caveat before you start writing this down. when i was there at the operating budget of fema was about $3 billion. sounds like a lot of money. the operating budget of dhs at the time was $48 billion. just to give you comparison, that's where we fit within the department of homeland security. 3,000 employees, 3500 at the time, versus 180 or 200,000 at the time. it is a minuscule federal agency. a very effective, but a very minuscule federal agency. and in this town, money and employees are the currency of this town. and the problem in this town is that fema has always been, i shouldn't say always, fema became relegated to the back waters the bureaucracy. it became relegated to the monolith. see how liberating it is to be out of the government.
you can say all of these things and you don't give a rats ass what people think. write that down, guys. it became monolithed to the government of national security. imagine being in a budget meeting with dhs, and you are arguing over trying -- you have $3.5 billion for operating. you have begging for an additional half a billion. versus everybody else arguing over the tens of millions of dollars. it's just a fact of life. they are not being creative and fema should not been part of the dhs. that's an argument that i'll continue to bang my head. nobody listens. that's fine. next question? >> how do you have society change it's thought about what fema does? seems like every time something happened?
fema isn't here yet. we call fema and can't talk to anyone. can't get anyone to come and help us. how do we as society change that? have people out there in the country realize that they are not that local fire department or ambulance service. >> first of all, you have to want to change it. every disaster affects at least one united states congressman, two u.s. senators, and one governor. what is their motivation to change that perspective or that image of fema when it gives them an incredible photo opportunity to stand and hand out a check, stand and hand out, you know, money to rebuild the school or hospital. there's no incentive whatsoever for them to change that. so instead, what you have to do is, you have to which is very difficult, you have to take experiences like hurricane katrina with all do respect to
people in the super dome. i understand they were hot, miserable, i understand that they wanted water, there was water there. i understand they wanted food. there's mres there. not the greatest meal in the world. they were safe. camera lens focuses about this wide. that's all you hear is had been is hot and miserable and nobody has come to save you. that gets extrapolated. why aren't they there? nobody asked should they be there? if they should be there, i mean what are those people doing there? and maybe the question should be asked, well, in the community that you live, what are you doing to help get them out of there. i think it's the willingness to have the discussion that i hope this book generated about what the role of government and what is the role of individuals when it comes to a crisis?
now i understand that people in the super dome were miserable. i get that. i want to compare them to the little woman that i saw. she had nothing. there was no government there to give her water or mre. there was no d-mat, disaster medical assistance team to help her. but for the americans that showed up. our expectations are way overblown in the country. we have no understanding of risk and probabilities. we don't get that. we go out and buy a lottery ticket when the lottery is like 50 million to one that you are going to win. yet it's more realistic perhaps you are going to get caught in a disaster. we understand risk and responsibilities. and so until we do that by being
willing to stand up and tell the truth about what occurred in a major disaster like this, that's the kick that i'm on. here's what happened. i'm not bound by the political correctness at the time or being within the administration of, yes, i understand that you are miserable. you are alive, and there's water and health care coming. and there is the military coming to get you all of there. it may not be as fast as you'd like. may not be as fast as you'd like. but it is coming. it's a tough thing to say. >> part of what had happened was not just a crisis. was also a crisis of control in the media too. allowing what the film to portray it and no one got ahead of it. >> a great example that i give in the book is anderson cooper. i don't know who anderson talked
to. he desperately wanted to get one the urban search and rescue teams boats to go and see people rescue. staff camed to me and asked me the question. hell no you are not going to do that. no, you are not going to get cooper in a boat. they go up to the house. the boat holds six people. you got four rescue people, now you got anderson and cameraman. what am i supposed to do? put him on the roof and take these four people off and take them back and get anderson? no. what i didn't do is get ahead of the story. what i didn't do is say anderson cannot get in the boat. here's what we will do. we'll go find another boat and tie anderson to the rescue boat so that he's not taking up space. he can watch it. instead, we didn't. i just said no, that was it. he did what any good journalist could do. got up, got his own boat, went out, he didn't go with the rescue team. he went out ahead of them. found people in the roof.
look, there's nobody here. nobody is here to save these people on the roof. let me save you. some on. maybe it's heraldo. come on down. i'll save you. what anderson didn't realize, he got ahead of the grid. that was one house back coming to save those folks. that's not what gets portrayed. the other thing we did, which we didn't do a good job, we embedded a reporter with us before katrina. bobby who was a reporter for the wall street journal. bobby was probably one the more objective reporters in terms of katrina, because he had spent seems like a month and probably a couple of days spent quite a bit of time with me, learning and understanding what fema did and how it worked. we should do more of that. frankly, i think the media should do more of it. the media ought to recognize, i get it, guys.
i get it. if it bleeds, it leads. if you can get that one person in the camera screaming and yelling about something. that's what you are going to talk about it. i get it. what you ought to do, consumers in the news, those of you who are not in the media, what that camera lens is focused, you need to remember there's a story behind the cameraman, behind the person they are interviewed, and there's a story on both sides. there's those four perspectives that you are not getting also. you shouldn't -- you shouldn't, people who are in this room, because you are all shorter than the average population, you should not just be these consumers of news that allow it to come in through osmosis. you need to be more concerting consumers. when anderson is doing a picture or story of somebody being taken off a roof. if he's screaming why isn't somebody there? don't just take it to face
value. ask yourself. >> yes, sir? >> one the problems, you were saying the new director of fema is lowering expectations. that's a good thing. maybe the worries should be instilling realistic expectations. >> exactly. >> it's like we're putting the standard somewhere. no, you can't achieve that standard. >> i think he makes a good point. it is realistic expectations. it's getting the expectations down to a realistic level. that is when the teams go. this is the amazing thing about the media. so we have -- we have louisiana department fish and wildlife, we have the urban search and rescue, and the coast guard rescuing more people and triaging them off, quickly off of the rooftops, taking them from the rooftops to dry ground. that might be an overpass on one the interstates. but we're triaging to be as effective as possible to save as
many people as possible. what's the result of that? somebody on one the over passes dies and i get sued. i get sued personally down to louisiana because we had been grossly negligent, the claim is, by triaging. seriously? by actually saving people and putting them on dry land and then getting all of those people off of roofs and getting them over to the airport where the teams are to start caring for them. because someone dies in the process we are grossly negligent. that's where we have the expectations way out of line. we have to realize that you can't save everybody. :
her plan was a cooler in the attic with important documents because they needed those documents and they are on this when they're up in their attic because their home is to the water it acts out to the rescue. he had a lot of and that was the perfect plan. >> [inaudible] >> she did not get flooded. she got out of town but it was
mayhem. it was horrible. she didn't know whether she had a house to come back to or what. >> [inaudible] >> people would read. we had a snowstorm that pretty much lost people for the better part of a week earlier and a storm people couldn't get home and they actually ran out of gas at the side of the road as a potential for letting people know stay in your office. why would you leave a place this safe? >> one of the things we did on post 9/11 that james talked about in the introduction we talked about there was a small attack or the dirty bomb within the national capital region, and of the fault was we are a little bit shady year because everybody would go out and they would go to richmond or baltimore or
somewhere else. i remember seeing that scratching my head thinking okay what's going to happen to the infrastructure. in richmond they are going to go further out. keep pushing everything out as far as we can. we never thought about we never thought beyond somebody going to pittsburgh we didn't think about that. i think the same thing is true here. there is this idea i think it's valid if we figure out a way to take care of ourselves where we are depending on what time of year it hit some d.c. i might stay exactly where i used to live in alexandria, probably the safest place even though it is within 8 miles or so of the national mall. why? the dirty bomb doesn't mean
anything as long as they're in the opposite direction. it's just a gannet gets back to the idea understanding the risk of california would ever come understanding the risk. and during the basics prepared. >> notwithstanding the federal and you break down the bureaucracy is that the individual level to the state level governor now what. for the first time because no one really understands level of direction that we have to deal with or that they had to deal with in a crisis situation. you spend a lot of time breaking that down for the first time i've ever read anybody put that on paper. >> one of the things that amazes
me of my talk show or just giving lectures around the world about this people don't understand unless you work in washington, they don't understand the convoluted system which is a great system, don't get me wrong that federalism basically precludes us from the federal government to walk to the to lock them in and say hi governor years we are going to do. i took the attitude of the governor was the one in charge if we were to figure out what the governor needed to try to help. one of the stories i have in the book is about the air force one trolleying to convince or we did convince the president to do -- to federalize act and take over the wall enforcement and everything in the world. my argument for doing it was because of these bureaucracies we can't make things happen fast
enough. we can't get through the dysfunction and the federal government must the federal level so the president agreed to do that making the most decision to allow 24 hours to think about she thought about it publicly and said no, not ring to happen. in the into worked out because the general cannon and was able to figure out a way to work through that bureaucracy there was a good old boy. >> i have covered various disasters and or not the first director just here a month ago that was the response of the the the be prepared talking about her book but i mean, we got that. isn't there like the supposed to do that for us? i mean, why does this message
not get through to people? >> i think there are two significant reasons. first, r. dee.gov me be great but it's the government and there is a natural in from the government i do it. i heard a commercial on the radio on the way to the airport. i couldn't tell you what it said, no clue, don't care. >> so we become jury cynical about the government telling us what to do a and rightfully so and i think there's another importance and that is we have. it is difficult if not impossible for many people to even think about this and it goes back to once again even those who are the poorest among those in the country are still better off than 98% of the rest
of the world come and because of that we become very complacent in the way we live and how we live and we have a belief that we are because we are americans that nothing bad can happen to us. and i don't know how to get that across even though i will continue to stand out and lecture and people pay me well to talk about them and the bad things that happen. i spoke to a group of ceos and this has been a couple years ago. i forget where during the q&a it came up around how ready they were in the continuity of operations how could they continue to get it back in the business as quickly as possible because one attitude was i have the most loyal group of people that i will put them up against anybody in this room. so i challenged them on that. how do you know that? because if something bad happens we have all these plans and they
will be able to get into the office so people can work remotely and i am thinking man. you pay a couple billion dollars a year and you don't have a clue that your employees need be the most loyal people in the world and they would walk across fired for you, but if they can't get the office or the foyer of the computer and it doesn't do anything, there is no connection to the internet, no way to connect wireless or their home has been destroyed. what do you think they are going to care about, taking care of their home and their family or that ceo, i have to work tomorrow. no, that's a difficult thing for even a ceo to the about and it's not a priority because he's worried about the next quarter until you know what hits the fan
we don't. there is a balance here and the balance is we could be more prepared that no matter how prepared we are, something bad, may and can happen to us. nobody likes to think about that. >> we are talking about part of the problem being expectations are just blown up proportionately when it comes to what the am i can and cannot do and how quickly it can or cannot do it so you're talking about addressing this and changing people's expectation that what fema is capable of doing right now. i it's more than that. i don't think the mission not to be expanded any because that feeds into the high your expectations. the natural tendency, the inherent natural tendency in this country, i see it with the
tsa and you can take any agency there is an article out today about how to expand the viper program and doing all these checkpoints in other places it's insanity. if fema were to start increasing its capacity to actually do response and start rescuing people, that will cause inherently people to be more complacent and dependent upon the government. so wherever fema is that right now it ought to just stop. it shouldn't have any additional capacity to maintain right where it is and not create, that would be difficult to do because as we see in the dhs and continue to expand and grow and become more pervasive in what they do this is the wrong way to go. it's the inherent nature of government. >> there's something else in california.
would it be a part of the federal government to support california to have them do that or the federal government tried to grow in a single responsibility at the state level have them curtail for a very serious. that's the way it should be and let's say that it is. right now it's idea is in that way, california, you know they are broke. california has done a good job and my opinion of heading somewhere in the san andreas fault. having said that, think about how the population along the fault line has increased just in our lifetime. so now if that occurs during the rough time, no matter how well prepared california is, they will not be able to respond effectively without the help of other states and without the help of a federal government there are not enough assets in california alone to rescue the number of people who will be separated from the rest of the state between the fault and the pacific ocean that will be
without power, without food, water, transportation, communication they won't be able to do squat so at that point we will have to have all the other states japan and more than likely have to have the federal government chip and in terms of military assets to do things. how many would there be available right now if the big one occurred right now somebody calls gates and say if we need 50 blackhawks and 27 shucks and whatever else we need in california to help respond, what do you think secretary gates is going to do? not in the sense of how yp4 this but how many do we have? and where are they? it's realizing where we are at
this moment in time what kind of assets to we have to respond to something like that? it doesn't exist. >> to the difference between scope and scale of verses what goes on every day verses but true command. >> paul speed 5. is the scope of san andreas, the scope of that is going to be tremendous and there will be tens if you get a perspective we were worried about housing 100,000 people imagine in california how do you howls 10 million, where do you put them 10 million fema trailers. 10 million fema trailers. how many are we going to have?
tent cities. berlin and idea for microchips, will bring ships off and put them in cruise ships. the scope like that you cannot scale up the bigger the catastrophic that occurs, the more difficult you will have scaling up to that event. >> there's another, i don't want to get intellectual in terms of the discussion, but we live a likelihood of a catastrophic event in california because the san andreas fault is 100%. it's going to happen. we don't know when. what is the likelihood of the magnetic poles in this country? you know what that is, you will be an atomic bomb in the atmosphere or the electronics and everything.
i don't want to push a second book in my discussion the there's one called one second or one minute after, frigate the title but it describes the society. well, the likelihood of an emp evin obering is not a great right now unless north korea goes to the random so it's not likely to occur, but the scope of that would be beyond -- would be absolutely beyond anything the united states to do. so scale and scope. that's why wherever you live, what you have to do is evaluate. i think the risk of a blackout of occurring almost anywhere in this country is pretty realistic. al qaeda, hezbollah, many of those. they may even charlie figure out you want to bring the country to its knees, have an attack on the substation's around the country where i find this would be
brilliant, do a cyberattack. >> how many of you could go three or four days without your debit card or credit card? [laughter] - know some people in this room that can't live without their did a bit card or credit card. other questions? >> these are good questions. how were those in turns doing back there? >> the last six years there's been a lot of criticism on the credentials. can you talking lot about this to lead an agency you're not james, you don't have the kind of experience but every one of those leaders has been coming from a different place and how did you kind of leverage your experience to do that job? >> let me ask you, was cycle
fight? -- was on a qualified? good answer. the most important thing for a president to look at any cabinet position unless you have a nuclear regulatory commission or head up the missile defense agency is to be able to do two things. to instill within the people that work for you the believe that you will take them to a level of excellence where they can achieve what they want to achieve and their particular area. you have to have the organizational management and understand to interplay between the political leadership and the civil service leadership. you have to understand all those things it is about managing an organization. it's not about the specific technicalities of understanding xy and z. beyond that though, i think i was probably more fortunate than
any other fema director of the history of the agency i came into the proverbial order i came in at the bottom. the general counsel where i had to learn all the rules and regulations however ain department and every part of the organization worked. what their capabilities were and what the legal responsibilities were and how they've worked and everything. and i got to work my way up the ladder. i think it was the best experience and probably better experience. if you can't manage, if you cannot manage the bureaucracy and to cannot manage the organization i don't care how technically smart you are coming winfield -- i would say based on
the people in this room and the people that have continued to communicate with me since i left the organization that i was very successful. [inaudible] >> the on the job training but also recognizing that if i needed a brain surgeon to fill that job, to have the expertise and i need a nuclear physicist to do this job in that part is having the sense to know you have to have the experts in the field around you so that when you need a physicist you have to get things done. absolutely. and every disaster is different. every disaster, i sound like a lawyer. every disaster is truly different in the sense you have
different nuances and different things but every disaster is exactly the same, and by that i mean you take 9/11. i said this until i am blue in the face. it irritates me the whole dichotomy between terrorism and natural disasters. what would the federal government have done differently on 9/11 had there been a failure in the air traffic control system and that's why they went into the towers to get them flying the planes in the tower, with that response be, what would the responsibility be differently on that day? nothing. it would have been exactly the same. so until we get through our heads that the disaster is while everyone is unique they are all basically the same, you have to respond and recover. >> is no 1i know you're asking to be as the director they don't even know who you were which must have meant you must have been doing a good job. >> just trying to get stuff
done. >> anybody else? >> are there any other countries we could model to the disasters from other countries to do a better job ferc symbol israel on a daily basis and they are a population that has training in the military, and they -- every house has a bunker and in england many disasters and their knowledge one [inaudible] >> there are things in countries all over the world we could emulate and learn from and one of the persistent problems we've had in this country is our unwillingness to to recognize me be someplace else does a little bit better there is something we can learn. i'm not sure that we can really emulate or adopt what another
country does. we would never be able to adopt the strategy of how -- she will never get that much. at least i hope we will have a reason to get that mind set in this country. let me put it this way. but you raise a good point and i pointed this out to a group the other day they're talking about the world of federal government because they need to respond better and get more people in the ground and boots on the ground and felt that to a significant amount of time during my tenure in russia a dictatorial autocratic government coming into the do some really good stuff. they are very good at some things. but you would think i'm going to use the word communist but i mean more than authoritative government. even in that authoritative system they can't do it.
intercom cannot come and rescue everybody in moscow when the attack occurred. they were calling us to do that and have the response and to attack the theater but there is a willingness to look beyond the shores for things we can do. >> what is the future of public service because we definitely have political views about the government role, and i think right now we are hearing a lot of kind of antibureaucratic and anti-government talk. what do you think the future is? what is the role of government and public service and meeting these needs in this criticism warranted in the government overreaching and taking on what made the private-sector the
personal responsibility. >> or devolving at closer to those most affected. devolving the the policy response down there is what i would rather see, and i think fema has a great role in terms of training and exercise it him of helping them develop policies and structures in ways the states and local governments respond. but i want to do is separate the concept of fema responding frisch's training and exercising and dillinger those of the state and local government learn how to do it. i think fema has a great role in that response -- in that respect. i started of this whole discussion about some of the people in this room. there is a lot of expertise of the federal level that the state and locals don't reach out to because we have taken and this is an editorial column because
we have taken the whole concept of response and recovery of how we deal with disasters both natural and man-made and natural and terrorism, and we've allowed terrorism to permeate all of that and so it has become a clash of cultures in my opinion a culture that says we have to stop, stop terrorists at all costs we will stop any active terrorism. that's well and good. it won't fail. it will fail because you cannot come even if you have a police sting, you cannot stop acts of terrorism. ask the chinese and the malaysians and anybody. i don't care what form of government we cannot stop it so we have to somehow get over the idea, this kind of goes back to the different kind of disasters that regardless of the type of disaster that occurs, helping state and local governments become prefect of and how they respond and recover from that. and i think that's the role the
federal government has. to the living some sort of continuity best practices around the country of helping state and locals for example, i don't know if this is going to work or not or lead to too many problems but i'm going to try this analogy and see if it works. the department of education, total waste of money because we are sending all this money into d.c. and adis as it figures through the bureaucracy that goes back out the state's that a dollar that i sent to washington to part of an education finally gets back to denver is about 20 or 40 cents and so it's not very effective. because instead of helping the state and locals they are doing mandates. what if we had the money that comes into fema through the general fund, and instead that is then taken because we have a
sweep of experts that in the small agency is unable to go out to all the different states and all the different localities and figure out ways to see this what continues after 9/11 how is it better to communicate in a disaster? how we figure out pravachol and equipment to have communications? >> out we figure out better ways, we still don't have it. how would he do we figured out a better way to encourage and recognized that to get local fire departments to recognize that it's in their best interest there's denver, colored nurse things. why should they encounter the best of every piece of equipment they can have. why not spread better and boulder and colorado springs and fort collins and all these cities are of the range came
together as a unit and just make sure they have the kind of capability of equipment training and everything else they can respond at the front ranks. there's only one organization that can drive that and that's fema. that's what they ought to be doing. i think if we get into the culture of doing that, that would automatically start changing people's perception of what it is that fema does. they do not show up and save your dog. stultz of local fire department does that and i think when you guys will be doing. >> anything else? [applause] >> before michael cleaves i'm going to present him with a national press club mud. so in any disaster this is all you need. [laughter] this is all we need to get you throu